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Reading: Steven Lukes and Michel Foucault: Exercising Power and Effecting Compliance

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Steven Lukes and Michel Foucault: Exercising Power and Effecting Compliance

Author:

Ritabrata Chakraborty

Hindu College, IN
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Abstract

Central to political theorizing and study of politics has been the concept of power. It is invoked in everyday usage while referring to interactions between social actors, institutions, or even nations. Despite its widespread (and often casual) usage, clarity regarding its meaning has remained largely elusive and terms such as ‘power’, ‘domination’, ‘compliance’, and ‘freedom’ flow around freely in our everyday discourse. With the intervention of Steven Lukes and Michel Foucault on this subject, there has been an immense proliferation of literature on this subject, accompanied by a conceptual expansion of power. In this paper, I attempt to adumbrate the main features of their conception of power, gleaning from Robert Dahl’s and Bachrach and Baratz’s views in the process, followed by an analysis on the mechanisms of securing compliance in each case. Going beyond the general assumption that power intrinsically entails compliance, this paper attempts to illustrate the means which link the two and argues that the subtlety and efficacy of the means go in tandem with that of the nature of power which operationalizes these means/mechanisms. The various facets of power presented also hold certain implications, and a potential for integrating them in the prevelant liberal-democratic framework of today is not only possible but also perhaps necessary.
How to Cite: Chakraborty, R., 2022. Steven Lukes and Michel Foucault: Exercising Power and Effecting Compliance. LSE Undergraduate Political Review, 5(1), pp.80–93.
Published on 22 Mar 2022.
Peer Reviewed

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